Sports hunting has evolved online and no longer do we need to go around shooting lions and the like. Nope online there’s bigger things to hunt, and over the past year “Trade Mark Bidders” have become the primary target.
The issue is quite simple, it’s easier to make a fast buck bidding on someones trade mark than it is to try and actually add some value to the shopping process, add to which trade marks convert really well and we have a recipe to attract every layabout and lazy dog on the Internet. Granted their are exceptions but the majority of TM bidding is all “value take” not “value add”.
Online merchants expect their affiliate managers / management firm to audit their affiliates, make sure they are adding value and, more and more, that affiliates are not cannibalizing their Trade Marks. The issue then becomes one of time and resources, how does the affiliate manage monitor a multitude of search engines, especially when ppc can now be set to target consumers within specific time periods and within specific geographic locations. An affiliate manager working from 9 AM to 5 PM in LA, is not going to see the ads targeting consumers “only” in Seattle, nor the ads in LA that kick off at 6 PM PST. The affiliate manager could effectively spend 8 hours a day simply trolling the search engines in hope of finding violators. The chances are still slim that they will find the violators even if they are there as TM bidders have become sophisticated in how they hide their links and disguise how their traffic gets to a merchants site. Yes they have a nice looking “niche” site in their profile…too bad it actually drives no traffic at all!
Anyway, so what we have is a situation where the affiliate manager is spending more time auditing than doing their core job, or where they simply throw their hands in the air and declare the situation to be beyond their control, pass the buck and hope someone else will take care of it, or not notice that have stopped monitoring the TM bidding.
Last year we thought about developing something that would automate this process, but with other tasks to do that fell by the way side, and we’ve seen other firms try to launch products that will do the job, but ultimately have failed to deliver. This morning however I had a great call with David Naffzigerof Brandverity, who appear to have a working solution and clear understanding of the challenges that affiliate managers face. While not yet perfect the system they have developed certainly does far more than most other systems we’ve had a look at to date.
As well as the core task of tracking down direct to site affiliate TM links it also records all forms of TM bidding to allow the affiliate manager to swiftly trace a bid to a landing page and tie it to an affiliate account or a competitor. It allows inhouse ads to be ignored and even has the ability to white list specific trusted PPC partners so that the reports will come through clear of approved / inhouse marketing.
A key mistake I made with their system was to only read the daily email report and not log into the site. The emails are fine, but are a little overwhelming, log in and the data is far more manageable and also deeper!Brandverity cover a number of key markets and search engines and are expanding constantly to cover new markets, and as David said, they are very keen to get feedback and ideas on how to make the tool better. Overall looks like this will be the solution that allows affiliate managers to get their focus back on helping value ad partners, and away from wasting time chasing down those out to take away that value.